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Preview: Freedom to Tinker

Freedom to Tinker

Research and expert commentary on digital technologies in public life

Last Build Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:00:03 +0000


LinkedIn reveals your personal email to your connections

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:00:03 +0000

[Huge thanks to Dillon Reisman, Arvind Narayanan, and Joanna Huey for providing great feedback on early drafts.] LinkedIn makes the primary email address associated with an account visible to all direct connections, as well as to people who have your email address in their contacts lists. By default, the primary email address is the one that was used […]

On Encryption, Archiving, and Accountability

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 12:58:08 +0000

“As Elites Switch to Texting, Watchdogs Fear Loss of Accountability“, says a headline in today’s New York Times. The story describes a rising concern among rule enforcers and compliance officers: Secure messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal and Confide are making inroads among lawmakers, corporate executives and other prominent communicators. Spooked by surveillance and wary of […]

European authorities fine Google for search tactics

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:40:56 +0000

This week the European Commission (EC) announced that it is fining Google $2.7 billion for anti-competitive tactics in the company’s iconic search product. In this post I’ll unpack what’s going on here. I have some background on this topic. In 2011-12, when I was Chief Technologist at the FTC, the agency did a big investigation […]

Killing car privacy by federal mandate

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:47:58 +0000

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing a requirement that every car should broadcast a cleartext message specifying its exact position, speed, and heading ten times per second. In comments filed in April, during the 90-day comment period, we (specifically, Leo Reyzin, Anna Lysyanskaya, Vitaly Shmatikov, Adam Smith, together with the CDT […]

Lessons of 2016 for U.S. Election Security

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 15:22:16 +0000

The 2016 election was one of the most eventful in U.S. history. We will be debating its consequences for a long time. For those of us who pay attention to the security and reliability of elections, the 2016 election teaches some important lessons. I’ll review some of them in this post. First, though, let’s review […]

Web Census Notebook: A new tool for studying web privacy

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 14:07:44 +0000

As part of the Web Transparency and Accountability Project, we’ve been visiting the web’s top 1 million sites every month using our open-source privacy measurement tool OpenWPM. This has led to numerous worrying findings such as the systematic abuse of newly introduced web features for fingerprinting, leading to better privacy tools and occasionally strong responses […]

Breaking, fixing, and extending zero-knowledge contingent payments

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 01:28:20 +0000

The problem of fair exchange arises often in business transactions — especially when those transactions are conducted anonymously over the internet. Alice would like to buy a widget from Bob, but there’s a circular problem: Alice refuses to pay Bob until she receives the widget whereas Bob refuses to send Alice the widget until he […]

What does it mean to ask for an “explainable” algorithm?

Wed, 31 May 2017 13:03:56 +0000

One of the standard critiques of using algorithms for decision-making about people, and especially for consequential decisions about access to housing, credit, education, and so on, is that the algorithms don’t provide an “explanation” for their results or the results aren’t “interpretable.”  This is a serious issue, but discussions of it are often frustrating. The reason, […]

Job Opening: Associate Director at Princeton CITP

Tue, 30 May 2017 17:16:12 +0000

Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP), which, among other things, hosts Freedom to Tinker, is looking for a new Associate Director. Please come and work with us! CITP is an interdisciplinary nexus of expertise in technology, engineering, public policy, and the social sciences. In keeping with the strong University tradition of service, the Center’s research, teaching, […]

Innovation in Network Measurement Can and Should Affect the Future of Internet Privacy

Mon, 08 May 2017 16:26:51 +0000

As most readers are likely aware, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a rule last fall governing how Internet service providers (ISPs) can gather and share data about consumers that was recently rolled back through the Congressional Review Act. The media stoked consumer fear with headlines such as “For Sale: Your Private Browsing History” and comments […]